Covid 19 Guidance for Weddings in the UK update

Saturday 15th of August 2020

It's been 141 days since I last wrote anything on here, so I thought it was about time for an update. Firstly I would like to take this chance to say thankyou to all the couples who have rearranged their weddings from this year to next for what must have been an absolutely horrible time for you all, all your wedding plans put on hold with something that was a hundred percent out of your control. Being a Wedding Photographer as I've said in the past in more than a job it's a lifestyle and you will never know how much I have missed capturing and sharing your wedding days with you all.

For the past five months everything has been changing day by day, week by week and I like everyone else have been staying in and keeping my family as safe as I can, I have sat and watched the country slowly open up and seen friends businesses open up again and they can finally get back to work. I think the whole of the wedding industry knew from day one that even though we were the first to be shut down we would be the last to re-open. We had some hope but then had to wait yet again which I can't imagine what it was like for couples deciding to go ahead with their wedding plans or not !. Then finally this Friday we got some good news that weddings and reception meals can go ahead again from the 15th of august. 

While this is certainly nothing like the life we had, it's a step in the right direction and to get any further restrictions lifted we need to all still work together and abide by the guidelines and rules we are told. Of course my main priority throughout all of this horrible pandemic is the safety of my clients and this will continue to be my number one consideration before anything.

Finally I am hoping that you are all staying safe and I can’t wait for that day when we can finally celebrate together, also I want to take this chance to spare a thought for all the people who have been lost too early by this virus and like everyone praying for a way that this can all be over.

As always I am here for all customers to have a chat and to discuss where you want to go in the future, whatever you decide I will be 100% here for you all. Hopefully soon I will be able to post some new wedding images for you all to see

Stay safe everyone and see some of you real soon. I have copied the new guidelines for weddings for you all to see bellow

Full updated guidance as copied from the gov.uk website


COVID-19: Guidance for small marriages and civil partnerships

Updated 14 August 2020

1. Introduction

The UK is currently experiencing a public health emergency as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The characteristics of COVID-19 are outlined by Public Health England. The transmission of COVID-19 is thought to occur mainly through respiratory droplets generated by coughing and sneezing, and through contact with contaminated surfaces. The predominant modes of transmission are assumed to be droplet and contact.

This guidance for marriage and civil partnership has been drafted on the basis of the scientific evidence available and will be updated as necessary as more data becomes available on COVID-19.

Marriages and civil partnerships are a vital part of our society, uniting couples to start their new life together and affording certain legal rights. These ceremonies are often followed by receptions and other celebrations attended by guests that are known to one another. However, by their very nature, in bringing families and friends together, they are particularly vulnerable to the spread of COVID-19.

The government has been working closely with stakeholders in the wedding industry, the Places of Worship Taskforce and the National Panel for Registration to consider how we are able to allow small marriages and civil partnerships to take place safely. Please ensure you are working from the latest version.

This guidance remains under review and may be updated in line with the changing situation.

2. Purpose of this guidance

This guidance is designed to assist people planning to get married or form a civil partnership in England, and venues that host such ceremonies, to prepare for small ceremonies, in accordance with the associated legislation.

The guidance sets out how this can be done in a manner that is safe and in line with social distancing guidelines, in order to minimise the risk of exposure to infection for all individuals attending the marriage or civil partnership, including those who work at the venues.

This guidance does not set out how to meet the requirements for a lawfully binding marriage, or civil partnership formation, nor how to give notice of marriage or civil partnership or Special Licences.

The guidance sets out how this can be done in a manner that is safe and in line with social distancing guidelines, in order to minimise the risk of exposure to infection for all individuals attending the events, including those who work at the venues.

This guidance applies only to marriages and civil partnerships taking place in England under the law of England and Wales. Religious ceremonies (those not taking place under the law of England and Wales), belief ceremonies, blessings, or other non-statutory ceremonies are not covered, and those wishing to conduct them should refer to other guidance on gatherings (see links below). In particular for religious ceremonies you should refer to the places of worship guidance. For belief ceremonies, blessings or other non-statutory ceremonies please refer to the relevant venue-specific guidance, and guidance on social distancing.

At present, legally-valid ceremonies or formations are strongly advised to go ahead only where they can be done in a COVID-19 secure environment. It is also advised that the ceremonies are kept as short as reasonably possible and limited as far as reasonably possible to the parts of the ceremonies that are required in order for the marriage or civil partnership to be legally binding. No more than 30 people should attend a marriage or civil partnership, where this can be safely accommodated with social distancing in a COVID-19 secure venue. This is the maximum number for all attendees at the event, including the couple and guests. It also includes any third-party suppliers, such as photographers or security, but does not include staff employed by the venue or any third party catering staff.

This guidance supersedes previous guidance. From 15 August 2020 receptions and other celebrations for weddings and civil partnerships can take place, but only in a COVID-19 secure venue. Such events should not take place in people’s private homes (or adjoining outdoor spaces like gardens), given that these will not have the same COVID-19 Secure measures in place. Capacity at a wedding or civil partnership reception or celebration (including the couple, guests and third-party suppliers, but not venue staff or third-party catering staff) should be no more than 30 and safely accommodated with social distancing in a COVID-19 secure venue. We will reassess guidance in relation to larger wedding receptions in line with the development of the scientific advice.

Guidance on receptions can be found below, and more detailed guidance is also available for how such receptions and celebrations can be held safely.

Definitions for the purpose of this guidance  
“Marriages” and “civil partnerships” The ceremony of solemnisation of marriage or formation of a civil partnership which includes the usages or requirements for the marriage or civil partnership to be legally binding under the law of England and Wales and may include other elements (which are not legally required).
“Venue” Any location at which a legally binding marriage or civil partnership can take place. These include, among the various permitted places: Register Offices; Approved premises for civil marriages and civil partnerships (that is, places approved by the local authority of the area in which the premises are situated); Church of England churches or chapels, Certified places of worship that have been registered for the solemnisation of marriage (“registered buildings”); Naval, military or air force chapels
“Venue managers” The person or persons responsible for the management of a venue, including assessment of compliance with the following guidelines.
“Visitor”, “attendee” or “guest” Individuals or households entering a venue for the purpose of attending a marriage ceremony or civil partnership formation.
“Officiant” A person acting in an official capacity. This could be a person with certain legal responsibilities at the ceremony, such as a registration official or authorised person, or a minister of religion solemnising the marriage.
“Must” Where the guidance states that an activity must take place this is because it is a requirement under the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020, and therefore is a requirement in law.
“Should” Where the guidance states that an activity should take place this is not a legal requirement under the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020, however it is strongly advised that consideration is given to following the advice being given to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19.
“Household” and “Support Bubble” A household is a person or a group of people who live together in the same accommodation.

A support bubble is where a single adult living alone, or a single parent with children under 18, can form an exclusive network with one other household where social distancing does not have to be observed.

The two households that form a support bubble count as one household for the purposes of this guidance.

Venue managers will have discretion over when they consider it safe to open, and the officiant should also be content that it is safe to proceed. The venue should decide to remain closed or not proceed with the marriage or civil partnership if they are not able to safely adhere to the guidelines outlined below. Where the legislation requires that a venue does not open at this time then it must remain closed.

This guidance has been published alongside industry or venue specific guidance, and this should be used alongside this guidance to ensure public safety. These include:

This guidance remains under review and may be updated in line with the changing situation.

3. Key principles for planning COVID-19 secure marriages and civil partnerships

For the purposes of a marriage ceremony or civil partnership formation, the number of attendees should ideally be kept to a minimum as far as possible. The lower the number of attendees, the lower the risk of spreading the virus.

However, we understand the unique significance that marriages and civil partnerships hold in people’s lives. For this reason, up to 30 people, but no more, can attend a marriage or civil partnership, where this can be safely accommodated with social distancing in a COVID-19 venue.

This maximum number includes all those at the ceremony, including the couple, witnesses, officiants and guests. It also includes any third-party suppliers, such as photographers or security, but does not include staff employed by the venue or any third party catering staff.

During all activity linked to the marriage ceremony or civil partnership formation, all parties should adhere to social distancing guidelines. 2 metres or 1 metre with risk mitigation (where 2 metres is not possible), are acceptable.

Those operating venues following COVID-19 secure guidelines should take additional steps to ensure the safety of the public and prevent large gatherings or mass events from taking place.

The marriage ceremony or civil partnership formation

  • Should only take place in COVID-19 secure environments. Where a marriage ceremony can take place legally in other places not covered by this guidance (such as outdoor weddings that are permitted under the Marriage Act), the legal restrictions on gatherings must be followed for that place.
  • It is advised that the ceremonies and services should be concluded in the shortest reasonable time, and limited as far as reasonably possible to the parts of the marriage or civil partnership that are required in order to be legally binding under the law of England and Wales.
  • Religious communities should therefore adapt traditional religious aspects, especially where celebrations would otherwise have taken place over a number of hours, or even days, to ensure the safety of those present and minimal spread of infection.
  • No food or drink should be consumed as a part of the marriage or civil partnership ceremony unless required for the purposes of solemnisation.
  • Where the exchanging of rings is required or desired for the solemnisation of the marriage or the formation of the civil partnership, hands should be washed before and after. The rings should be handled by as few people as possible.
  • Where an infant is involved in proceedings a parent/guardian or member of the infant’s household should hold the infant.

Singing, chanting and the use of musical instruments

  • People should avoid singing, shouting, raising voices and/or playing music at a volume that makes normal conversation difficult or that may encourage shouting. This is important to mitigate the potential for increased risk of transmission - particularly from droplets and aerosol transmission.
  • Therefore, spoken responses during marriages or civil partnerships should also not be in a raised voice.
  • As of 15 August, both professionals and non-professionals, or groups which include non-professionals, can conduct indoor performances with audiences in line with the guidance for people working in the performing arts.
  • Additional mitigations, such as extended social distancing were previously required for singing, wind and brass given concerns that these were potentially high risk activities. However, following further scientific studies into the scientific evidence of these activities, both professionals and non-professionals can now engage in singing, wind and brass in line with this guidance.
  • We are continuing to develop our understanding of the additional risks of indoor performances with audiences. In this context, organisers will therefore want to consider:
    • Maintaining social distancing wherever possible. Non-professionals should not engage in activities that may lead to social distancing being compromised.
    • Ensuring activity takes place outside where possible, including performance
    • Limiting the number of performers as far as possible (with non-professionals being restricted by rules on meeting people outside your home)
    • Limited the number of audience members, noting that capacity should be maintained at a level that allows social distancing to be maintained
    • Limiting the duration of performances as far as possible
    • Taking steps to improve ventilation as far as possible, both through the use of mechanical systems and opening windows and doors
  • The government and the medical and scientific communities are urgently engaged in research around transmission risk and how such activities can best be managed safely, and further guidance will follow when available.

Social distancing measures

  • All individuals involved in the ceremony (including attendees, guests and officiants) should be signposted to the current stay alert and social distancing guidance and that they or members of their household should not attend the marriage or civil partnership if they are unwell with symptoms of COVID-19. If either member of the couple have symptoms of COVID-19 the ceremony should not go ahead.
  • Wherever possible, adhere to social distancing of at least 2 metres, or 1 mere with risk mitigation (where 2 metres is not viable), between households. For frequently used venues, mark areas using floor tape or paint to help people maintain social distance.
  • You should consider and set out the mitigations you will introduce in your risk assessment. These could include, for instance, avoiding any face-to-face seating by changing layouts, reducing the number of people in enclosed spaces, improving ventilation, using protective screens and face coverings, and closing non-essential social spaces, as outlined throughout this guidance.
  • In England, face coverings are currently required by law to be worn in shops, supermarkets, indoor transport hubs, indoor shopping centres, banks, building societies, post offices and on public transport. From 8 August, face coverings are also required by law to be worn in a greater number of public indoor settings including places of worship, register offices, museums, galleries, cinemas and public libraries.
  • There are valid exemptions for some individuals and groups to not wear a face covering in these settings. In particular, those who are leading services or events in a place of worship. Those exemptions will also cover the couple being married or joined in a partnership and those officiating at the wedding. This exemption does not apply to those observing the wedding, who should wear face coverings consistent with the requirements for any other public space.’
  • People from different households should maintain social distancing between one another. This may require marriages or civil partnerships to be adapted to remove practices that would otherwise have brought people into contact with one another, unless required for the marriage or civil partnership to be legally binding. Where this is the case precautions should be put in place to minimise contact and ensure the timeframe is as short as possible.
  • Visitors should avoid touching property belonging to others, such as shoes which, if removed, should be placed and collected by their owner while adhering to social distancing principles.

Washing/ablution rituals

  • Any pre-requisite washing/ablution rituals should not be done at the venue but carried out prior to arrival.
  • In the rare circumstances where this is not possible, washing facilities at the venue should be used in line with social distancing guidelines and hygiene measures applied.
  • People should not wash the body parts of others.
  • Where rituals or ceremonies require water to be applied to the body, small volumes can be splashed onto the body, but full immersion should be avoided. Others present should stand distant from any splashes and stay socially distanced. All individuals involved should thoroughly wash their hands before and after and ensure good hygiene.

Handling objects and communal resources

  • Venue managers should take steps to prevent visitors from touching or kissing devotional and other objects that are handled communally. Where shared items are required for the solemnisation of the marriage or the formation of the civil partnership, hands should be washed before and after. The items should be handled by as few people as possible. Barriers or clear signage should be put in place where necessary.
  • Books, reusable and communal resources such as service sheets, prayer mats, or devotional material should be removed from use. Single use alternatives can be provided as long as they are removed by the attendee. Items owned by individuals for use in the ceremony or registration (such as a prayer mat or religious text, a pen for the signing of the register) may be brought in but should be removed after the marriage or civil partnership.
  • Where possible, venue managers should discourage cash donations and continue to use online giving resources where possible minimising contact around transactions. Regular cleaning and hygiene should be maintained and gloves worn to handle cash.

Post-ceremony receptions

  • From 15 August receptions and other celebrations for weddings and civil partnerships can take place in COVID-19 Secure environments.
  • Capacity at a wedding or civil partnership reception or celebration (including the couple, guests and third-party suppliers, but not venue staff or third-party catering staff) should be limited to no more than 30.
  • During all activities linked to the reception or celebration, all parties, especially people from separate households/bubbles, should adhere to social distancing guidelines; 2 metres or 1 metre with risk mitigation (where 2 metres is not viable).
  • Wherever possible all food and drinks should be served by staff to minimise customer self-service, in line with the guidance for restaurants, pubs, bars and takeaway services.
  • Dancing should not be permitted due to the increased risk of transmission and venues should not permit indoor performances, including drama, comedy and music, to take place in front of a live audience. Venues are advised to consider the guidance for people who work in performing arts if they are hosting any performances.
  • Any other activities, including those that are watched by attendees (e.g. cake cutting) should take place with social distancing being maintained at all times.
  • Speeches should be undertaken outside or in well ventilated areas wherever possible. Social distancing between the speaker and observers should be maintained at all times and speakers should not raise their voices.

4. Guidance for vulnerable or symptomatic individuals

There should be a particular focus on protecting people who are clinically vulnerable and more likely to develop severe illness.

Actions should include:

  • All guests or those involved in the ceremony staying at home and self-isolating if they have a new, continuous cough or a high temperature or loss of or change to sense of smell or taste. This is to minimise risk of spread of COVID-19 to friends, the wider community, and particularly the vulnerable. Where individuals are self-isolating due to a possible or confirmed case of COVID-19 in the household or because they have been requested to do so by NHS Test and Trace, they should participate remotely. See stay at home guidance for households with possible or confirmed COVID-19.
  • Individuals who are shielding should continue to follow the government’s advice on shielding.
  • If anyone becomes unwell with symptoms of COVID-19 at a venue they should go home and be advised to follow the stay at home guidance. If they need clinical advice they should go online to NHS 111 (or call 111 if they don’t have internet access). In an emergency, call 999 if they are seriously ill or injured or their life is at risk. They should not visit the GP, pharmacy, urgent care centre or a hospital.

Other people who may have been in contact with a person who has become unwell should wash their hands thoroughly after the interaction, but they do not need to take any other specific action unless they develop symptoms themselves or are advised to do so by NHS Test and Trace. If they do develop symptoms they should follow the stay at home guidance.

Individuals aged 70 years and over

Certain groups of people may be at increased risk of severe disease from COVID-19, including people who are aged 70 or older, regardless of medical conditions.

Individuals who fall within this group are advised to stay at home as much as possible and, if they do go out, to take particular care to minimise contact with others outside of their household.

You should consider informing these groups in particular of the symptoms of COVID-19 and current stay alert and social distancing guidance.

Individuals who are extremely clinically vulnerable/shielding

The NHS has written to around 2.2. million who are considered to be extremely clinically vulnerable to coronavirus, advising them to shield. See the current guidance for this group.

Young people and children

Parents or guardians should ensure children maintain social distancing and frequently wash their hands thoroughly for 20 seconds with running water and soap and dry them thoroughly or use hand sanitiser ensuring that all parts of the hands are covered.

Any shared facilities for children, such as play corners, soft furnishings, soft toys and toys that are hard to clean, should be removed or closed. Outdoor playgrounds are permitted to open where venue managers risk assess that it is safe to do so. Particular attention should be paid to cleaning frequently touched surfaces by children and those that are at child height.

5. Test and trace

The government has launched an NHS Test and Trace service to manage the risk of the virus re-emerging. The service:

  • provides testing for anyone who has symptoms of COVID-19 to find out if they have the virus
  • gets in touch with anyone who has had a positive test result to help them share information about any close recent contacts they have had; and
  • alerts those contacts, where necessary, and notifies them they need to self-isolate to help stop the spread of the virus.

Further information can be found online including for contacts of people with possible or confirmed COVID-19 infection who do not live with the person and for places of work.

In line with other government guidance for other venues including in the retail and hospitality sector, the venue manager should assist this service by keeping an accurate temporary record of visitors for 21 days, in a way that is manageable for your place of worship, and assist NHS Test and Trace with requests for that data if needed for contact tracing and the investigation of local outbreaks. Find further guidance on maintaining records of staff, customers and visitors to support NHS Test and Trace.

While generally consent is not always required, we do recommend that consent is collected in places of worship. This is because of the potentially sensitive nature of the data collected in these circumstances, which is protected by law. Guidance on collecting visitor details for Test and Trace, including issues around consent, is provided by the Information Commissioner’s Office. You should make clear that giving contact details is optional and is not a condition of attending your place of worship. We have created a template form for collecting consent, which is relevant for places of worship, available in Annex A.

6. Enforcement

It is important to note enforcement provisions, as is the case for other sectors.

Where the enforcing authority, such as the HSE or your local authority, identifies employers or venues who are not taking action to comply with the relevant public health legislation and guidance to control public health risks, they are empowered to take a range of actions to improve control of venue risks. Enforcement officers will take relevant guidance into account.

Failure to complete a risk assessment which takes account of COVID-19, or completing a risk assessment but failing to put in place sufficient measures to manage the risk of COVID-19, could constitute a breach of existing health and safety legislation.

The actions the enforcing authority can take include the provision of specific advice to venues to support them to achieve the required standard, through to issuing enforcement notices to help secure improvements. Serious breaches and failure to comply with enforcement notices can constitute a criminal offence, with serious fines and even imprisonment for up to 2 years. There is also a wider system of enforcement, which includes specific obligations and conditions for licensed premises.

Venue managers are expected to respond to any advice or notices issued by enforcing authorities rapidly and are required to do so within any timescales imposed by the enforcing authorities. The vast majority of venues and venue managers are responsible and will join with the UK’s fight against COVID-19 by working with the government and their sector bodies to protect their workers and the public. However, regulators are carrying out compliance checks nationwide to ensure that employers and venues are taking the necessary steps.

Guidance

COVID-19: Guidance for wedding and civil partnership receptions and celebrations

1. Introduction

The UK is currently experiencing a public health emergency as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The characteristics of COVID-19 are outlined by Public Health England. The transmission of COVID-19 is thought to occur mainly through respiratory droplets generated by coughing and sneezing, and through contact with contaminated surfaces. The predominant modes of transmission are assumed to be droplet and contact. aerosol and direct contact of contaminated surfaces eg hands, with the eyes, mouth or nose. Evidence on the most effective steps that can be taken to limit the transmission of the virus continues to be regularly reviewed. This guidance may be updated in the future in response to changing scientific understanding.

Marriages and civil partnerships are a vital part of our society, uniting couples to start their new life together and affording certain legal rights. These ceremonies are often followed by receptions and other celebrations attended by guests that are known to one another. However, by their very nature, in bringing families and friends together, they are particularly vulnerable to the spread of COVID-19.

The government has been working closely with stakeholders in the wedding industry to consider how we are able to allow small wedding and civil partnership celebrations to take place safely.

This guidance remains under review and may be updated in line with the changing situation.

2. Purpose of this guidance

This guidance is designed to assist venues that host wedding and civil partnership receptions and celebrations in England, and other businesses involved in these events, to prepare their activities in accordance with the associated legislation.

The guidance sets out how this can be done in a manner that is safe and in line with social distancing guidelines, in order to minimise the risk of exposure to infection for all individuals attending the events, including those who work at the venues.

This guidance applies only to marriage and civil partnership receptions and celebrations taking place in England. See the government’s guidance on marriage ceremonies and civil partnership formations.

This guidance supersedes previous guidance. From 15 August 2020 receptions and other celebrations for weddings and civil partnerships can take place, but only in a COVID-19 secure environment/venue. Such events should not take place in people’s private homes (or adjoining outdoor spaces like gardens), given that these will not have the same COVID-19 Secure measures in place. Capacity at a wedding or civil partnership reception or celebration (including the couple, guests and third-party suppliers, but not venue staff or third-party catering staff) should be no more than 30 and safely accommodated with social distancing in a COVID-19 secure venue. We will re-assess guidance in relation to larger wedding receptions in line with the development of the scientific advice.

Definitions for the purpose of this guidance

‘Reception’ and ‘celebration’ A gathering of people to mark the occasion of the marriage or civil partnership of a couple, usually involving a sit-down meal.
‘Venue’ Any COVID-19 Secure location at which a reception or celebration takes place.
‘Venue managers’ The person or persons responsible for the management of a venue, including assessment of compliance with the following guidelines.
‘Visitor’, ‘attendee’ or ‘guest’ Individuals or households entering a venue for the purpose of attending a reception or celebration.
‘Third-party supplier’ Any other individuals providing a service on site for receptions and celebrations. This can be either during the event itself, or prior to/following the event for the purposes of preparing and/or tidying up.
‘Should’ Where the guidance states that an activity should take place this is not a legal requirement, however it is strongly advised that consideration is given to following the advice being given to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19.
‘Household’ and ‘Support Bubble’ A household is a person or a group of people who live together in the same accommodation.

A support bubble is where a single adult living alone, or a single parent with children under 18, can form an exclusive network with one other household where social distancing does not have to be observed.

The 2 households that form a support bubble count as one household for the purposes of this guidance.

Venue managers have discretion over when they consider it safe to open. The venue should decide to remain closed or not proceed with the reception or celebration if they are not able to safely adhere to the guidelines outlined below. Where the legislation requires that a venue does not open at this time then it must remain closed.

This guidance has been published alongside other specific guidance provided by government (all of which is subject to review and update), which should be used together to ensure public safety. These include:

3. Key principles

It is crucial that all staff, attendees and third-party suppliers visiting reception or celebration venues are not showing any symptoms of COVID-19. Anyone displaying symptoms should stay at home and get tested.

If anyone becomes unwell with symptoms of COVID-19 at a venue they should go home and be advised to follow the stay at home guidance. If they need clinical advice they should go online to NHS 111 (or call 111 if they don’t have internet access). In an emergency, call 999 if they are seriously ill or injured or their life is at risk. They should not visit the GP, pharmacy, urgent care centre or a hospital except for emergency access as above.

People who may have been in contact with a person who has become unwell should wash their hands thoroughly after the interaction, but they do not need to take any other specific action unless they develop symptoms themselves or are advised to do so by NHS Test and Trace. If they do develop symptoms they must follow the stay at home guidance.

Social distancing measures

During all activities linked to the reception or celebration, all parties, especially people from separate households/bubbles, should adhere to social distancing guidelines; 2 metres or 1 metre with risk mitigation (where 2 metres is not viable). Venues and guest numbers should be chosen to ensure 2 metre spacing is possible for the main sections of the celebrations.

Wherever possible attendees should remain seated to support social distancing safety measures. They should be reminded at key points during the events to maintain social distancing and to avoid physical contact with individuals from different households.

Attendees and staff are strongly encouraged to wear a face covering where social distancing may be difficult and where they come into contact with people they do not normally meet, in line with the guidance on face coverings.

Venue managers should provide hand sanitiser at convenient points throughout the venue, and encourage attendees to use it.

Attendees, including children, should frequently throughout the day wash their hands thoroughly for 20 seconds with running water and soap, or use hand sanitiser ensuring that all parts of the hands are covered.

Any shared facilities for children, such as play corners, soft furnishings, soft toys and toys that are hard to clean, should be removed or closed. Outdoor playgrounds are permitted to open where venue managers risk assess that it is safe to do so and ensure facilities are cleaned regularly. Particular attention should be paid to cleaning frequently touched surfaces and those that are at child height.

Venue managers should record the names and contact details of all persons visiting the venues and keep a written record for at least 21 days to support NHS Test and Trace.

Serving and consuming food and drink

Wherever possible staff should serve all food and drinks to minimise customer self-service, in line with the guidance for restaurants, pubs, bars and takeaway services and attendees should remain seated.

Seating arrangements should follow social distancing guidance, meaning that at most two households (including any support bubbles) are seated together and social distancing is maintained between these groups. Outdoor table service is also preferable.

Entertainment

Dancing should not be permitted due to the increased risk of transmission and dancefloors may be repurposed for additional customer seating or other relevant purposes, ensuring this is in line with the social distancing guidelines.

Venues intending to incorporate any live music, drama or comedy performance should strictly adhere to the Performing Arts guidance. To minimise risk of droplet and aerosol transmission from the combined attendees including the performer/s, audience, wedding party and associated staff and site providers. Outdoor performances are always preferable. Where any indoor performances are planned they should be limited in size, implement strict social distancing rules, only take place where high rates of air flow can be maintained, should use amplification systems to create volume rather than natural voices and should discourage vocal responses or audiences joining in. A solo or small number of performers is preferable and all should be socially distanced. Those planning the wedding should consider how the performers will impact the total size of the wedding party and therefore the safety of their event.

Indoor performances to a live audience with strict social distancing arrangements are expected to resume after 15 August in areas unrestricted by national or local restrictions. Venues should take account of the Performing Arts guidance in organising outdoor performances.

All venues should ensure that steps are taken to avoid people needing to unduly raise their voices to each other at any point in the proceedings. This includes - but is not limited to - refraining from playing music at a volume that makes normal conversation difficult, and avoiding activities such as communal singing or chanting. This is because there is a possible additional risk of transmission in environments where individuals are talking loudly, or singing or chanting as a group, and this applies even if social distancing is being observed or face coverings are used. You should take similar steps to prevent other close contact activities.

Other activities

Any other activities, including those that are watched by attendees (such as cake cutting) should take place with social distancing being maintained at all times and the numbers of guests involved limited wherever possible, with people remaining in their households/bubbles.

Activities that involve objects being thrown (such as confetti or bouquet toss) or passed from person to person should be avoided to reduce the likelihood of transmission.

Speeches should be undertaken outside or in well ventilated areas wherever possible. Ventilation with external air should be maximised in all buildings where people are gathering. For example, windows and doors should be opened as much as possible, and the sides of marquees removed or rolled up, throughout the event and when groups of staff are preparing and clearing away. Air conditioning systems using recirculated air are not advised. PA systems should be utilised wherever possible to help amplify speeches without speakers needing to raise their voices. Social distancing between the speaker and observers should be maintained at all times and neither speakers nor participants should raise their voices, to avoid the increased risk from aerosol transmission.

Objects in the venue

Other objects in the venue being touched by several people (such as guest books or polaroid camera stations) should be minimised and hand sanitisation encouraged both before and after contact. The exchange of cards and gifts during receptions and celebrations should be minimised wherever possible.

Third-party suppliers

For suppliers present during the wedding reception or celebration, they and the venue managers should ensure that all activities undertaken are subject to a risk assessment and that they maintain social distancing during any activities the suppliers are responsible for.

Contact details of all suppliers visiting the venue, including those visiting prior to or following the event, should be recorded and maintained in writing or electronically for 21 days to support NHS Test and Trace in the event of a confirmed case of COVID-19.

Venue managers should ensure that all third-party suppliers follow the guidance on inbound and outbound goods as set out in the guidance on restaurants, pubs, bars and takeaway services.

4. Guidance for venue managers

This guidance has been developed specifically for venues hosting wedding and civil partnership receptions and celebrations, and should be read in conjunction with other published COVID-secure guidance (see above).

Restrictions on capacity

No more than 30 people should attend a reception or celebration at such venues, and only where this can be safely accommodated with social distancing in a COVID-19 Secure venue.

This is the advised maximum number for all attendees at the event, including the couple and guests. It also includes any third-party suppliers, such as photographers or security. It does not include staff employed by the venue or third-party catering staff.

5. Test and Trace

The government has launched an NHS Test and Trace service to manage the risk of the virus re-emerging. The service:

  • provides testing for anyone who has symptoms of COVID-19 to find out if they have the virus
  • gets in touch with anyone who has had a positive test result to help them share information about any close recent contacts they have had
  • alerts those contacts, where necessary, and notifies them they need to self-isolate to help stop the spread of the virus

Further information can be found online, including for people who have come into contact with possible or confirmed cases of COVID-19.

In line with government guidance for other venues including in the retail and hospitality sector, the venue manager should assist this service by keeping an accurate temporary record of visitors for 21 days, in a way that is manageable for the venue, but sufficient to effectively assist NHS Test and Trace with requests for that data if needed for contact tracing and the investigation of local outbreaks.

The NHS Test and Trace service will follow up with people who need to self-isolate because they have had close recent contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus. NHS Test and Trace can be contacted by telephone on: 0300 013 5000. Venue managers do not need to contact visitors themselves.

Please see further guidance on maintaining records of staff, customers and visitors to support NHS Test and Trace.

6. Enforcement

Where the enforcing authority, such as the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) or your local authority, identifies employers or venues who are not taking action to comply with the relevant public health legislation to control public health risks, they are empowered to take a range of actions to improve control of venue risks. Enforcement officers will take relevant guidance into account.

Failure to complete a risk assessment which takes account of COVID-19, or completing a risk assessment but failing to put in place sufficient measures to manage the risk of COVID-19, could constitute a breach of existing health and safety legislation.

The actions the enforcing authority can take include the provision of specific advice to venues to support them to achieve the required standard, through to issuing enforcement notices to help secure improvements. Serious breaches and failure to comply with enforcement notices can constitute a criminal offence, with serious fines and even imprisonment for up to 2 years. There is also a wider system of enforcement, which includes specific obligations and conditions for licensed premises.

Venue managers are expected to respond to any advice or notices issued by enforcing authorities rapidly and are required to do so within any timescales imposed by the enforcing authorities. Our expectation is that venues and venue managers will act responsibly and join with the UK’s fight against COVID-19 by working with the government and their sector bodies to protect their workers and the public. However, regulators are carrying out compliance checks nationwide to ensure that employers and venues are taking the necessary steps.

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